An Introduction To Maternal Lines In Scripture

Having already dealt with the laws relating to marriage and family that are relevant to the study of maternal ancestry [1], it is worthwhile to give some idea of the scope of what the Bible has to say about maternal ancestry.  There are several ways that we can gain an understanding of how important the Bible considered the maternal line, and as this is an area that many readers simply miss when looking at biblical stories, it is worthwhile to introduce the approach we will take in our study so that some proper expectations can be set about the sort of perspective that will be taken here.  There are many writers who seek to increase the interest of biblical history regarding women by creating characters out of whole cloth or by taking biblical personages about which only a little is said and then expanding it beyond all recognition through the use of fancy and creativity and supposition.  That is not the approach that will be taken here.  To be sure, it is sometimes necessary to read between the lines, but this particular investigation will invent no non-biblical characters to make the story more exciting nor will we engage in flights of fancy.  We are interested, instead, in either that which is directly stated in scripture or that which can be inferred reliably from scripture.  The fact that some of these stories either have been or could easily be made into the sort of novel that Lynn Austen or her legions of imitators [2] would write ought not to discourage us from examining what the Bible says about the importance of women in family history.

Having said that, let us introduce precisely where in the Bible we are going to find statements about the importance of women to family history.  As might be gathered, many such stories exist in the Bible, and as a result this is going to be much more lengthy subject that one might think.  There are some parts of the Bible that deal with such matters directly.  For example, there is a wide degree of genealogical material that will be mined for the identity of mothers and an examination of the importance of these mothers. That these materials are little read and understood makes it all the more important that we discuss them, even if to many people such information may seem boring.  Additionally, there are many stories in the Bible where the maternal line of ancestry is of importance, but where we are not used to looking at the story from the point of view of what is going on with the women involved themselves because the main characters involved happen to be their menfolk.  So, we will spend a lot of time looking at familiar stories and note aspects of those stories that simply strike a reader as odd or distinctive when we stop and take a deeper look at them.  Some readers may have already thought of some of these stories as being interesting in isolation, but hopefully this particularly study will be of worth in putting the stories as part of a larger context.

Hopefully this study will not be seen in isolation but as part of a bigger picture.  In most biblical genealogies, we mostly see men begetting men.  When we see women, like the four women of the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew [3], it is not always obvious why they are mentioned in particular, or what parts of their stories are being brought to light, unless we have a great deal of knowledge about those women from when they appear.  When we read the genealogies of the kings of Judah, if we bother to do so in the first place, we may not see their importance that obviously at all, although it should strike us as worthy of note that the chroniclers of biblical history saw it necessary to cite both the father and the mother of Judah’s kings, even if that same level of detail is not included in Israel’s kings and seldom in discussions of nonbiblical rulers as well.  Likewise, the importance of women to the patriarchs ought to be particularly obvious.  How many of the stories involving Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons involve women?  There are three stories where Abraham and Isaac pretend that their wives are sisters to avoid being killed in gentile kingdoms, numerous stories where there are divisions between the children of different mothers, and quite a few stories where the main business at hand is trying to get a wife.  As a single man from a dysfunctional family, this is the sort of business that I pay more attention to than most people would, given my own struggles in precisely the areas where we see the patriarchs wrestle with.

Indeed, it would be worthwhile for us to begin with the stories of the patriarchs themselves.  If we can demonstrate, for example, that the maternal line and its purity is valued and considered important by God, in the stories that are most often seen as evidence of male domination, then we ought to find it much easier to examine the importance of such lines in more enlightened aspects of the Bible where we might expect women to be viewed more highly.  Even more to the point, if we can find that the Bible even in its earliest sections views women with particular importance, then we have good reason to clear the Bible of the many accusations made that God’s Word is hopelessly biased against women.  If those of us who have no particular fondness for the culture of outrage and no particular ax to grind when it comes to biblical interpretation can see the Bible’s respect and regard for women, then those who are fellow fair-minded readers should easily come to the same conclusion.  With that said, let us begin our look into the maternal lines in scripture by taking a close look at the importance of maternal ancestry in the accounts of the patriarchs.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Love & Marriage, Maternal Lines, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An Introduction To Maternal Lines In Scripture

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Maternal Lines Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Maternal Lines: The Patriarchs (Part One) | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Mysteries Of The Bible: Why Does The Bible Talk So Much About Genealogy | Edge Induced Cohesion

  4. Pingback: An Introduction To The Apostolic Fathers Series | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s